Recent polls in the Georgia gubernatorial race show that Democrat Jason Carter and Republican Governor Nathan Deal are in a close race. Yet Libertarian Andrew Hunt may be making a late push to become a factor in the outcome.A former nanotechnology firm CEO, the 53-year-old Hunt has polled well and just received an
endorsement that may sway some conservatives, libertarians, and independents.
If Hunt receives enough support in November, he could deprive either Carter or Deal a majority and force a runoff. The Real Clear Politics average shows Deal with a lead, but at only 47.4 percent. A review of all major polls of the past year shows that Deal has only reached the 50 percent threshold three times and never higher.
So far Hunt is receiving a significant portion of polling support -- usually getting between three and seven percent. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hunt says he is a libertarian, but not rigidly so. He emphasizes he is a "very religious, Christian guy" and while formally pro-choice, his campaign website has a tab, "Better Birth Options: Move away from the 'must have an abortion' mentality."Hunt may have an opening in this race because some Republicans have been impatient with the progress Deal has made in cutting taxes and government spending. During his 2010 campaign, candidate Deal promised to cut corporate income taxes in order to spur business growth. In 2012, Governor Deal signed a tax package to take place in
stages. It mainly included sales tax eliminations and income tax exemptions.
However, overall state spending has increased slightly under Deal and the Republican-controlled legislature, with projected higher increases through at least 2019.
Sitting governors typically do not receive serious primary threats, but while Deal earned a little more than 70 percent of the GOP primary vote, there are signs that his hold on the Republican vote has not crystallized.
This was illustrated almost two weeks ago when Hunt received the endorsement of former Dalton mayor David Pennington, the recipient of 17 percent of the primary vote.
During the primary, Pennington criticized Deal for not cutting taxes fast enough and for increasing government spending. In his endorsement, Pennington said Hunt was "the only limited government conservative in the race." He laid out his case that Hunt:
"...has said we need to lead with an income tax reduction . . . secondly, we need tort reform, malpractice reform, and we definitely need to be able to decrease spending. Because of that, that's why I'm voting for Andrew Hunt." - David Pennington
On the notion that voting for the Libertarian Hunt is a wasted vote, Pennington retorted, "I believe you waste your vote when you vote for somebody who does not share your ideals or beliefs."
"[Georgia has] many in low paying or part time jobs. Decreasing the tax rate from 6% to 4% and applying it fairly and evenly can increase economic freedom for so many Georgians, allowing them more freedom and discretionary money to use for their activities and interests."
Key to Hunt's success will be how many major party voters will cross over to vote for the Libertarian. Carter has already tried to set himself apart from President Obama and unpopular legislation in an attempt to gain votes.
Hunt's Twitter profile shows that he has a lot of support from libertarian activists, but also from many who advertise themselves as pro-life and Christian, which is typically indicative of Republican support. At least one tea party supporter was quoted saying he will vote a split ticket this year: Republican for US Senate and Libertarian for governor.
For Hunt, who is being included in debates, the time may be now to make a difference in the gubernatorial race.
Photo Source: Andrew Hunt / Facebook